MBN continues fight against drug trade amid pandemic

Updated: Oct. 1, 2020 at 9:51 PM CDT
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PINE BELT (WDAM) - As the push continues to slow the spread of COVID-19, the work continues behind the scenes to stop illegal drug activity from plaguing local communities.

The Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics has jointly seized more than $2 billion in U.S. currency derived from drug proceeds just this year.

Law enforcement officials said a significant amount of cash flow in one place can indicate drugs are being delivered and purchased.

“In excess of thousands of pounds of marijuana, multiple kilos of cocaine and methamphetamine.” That’s how much MBN Director Col. Steven Maxwell said has already been seized so far this year by the elite group of agents that make up the Mississippi Bureau of Narcotics.

Since 1971, the goal maintains the same: eradicate the trafficking, distribution and sale of illegal narcotics as well as the diversion of pharmaceutical drugs.

As we endure the deadly coronavirus pandemic, the illegal drug trade is still active.

“We have people who are persistent and people who are determined even in the face of potentially contracting COVID-19 to use drugs and to sell drugs. That is an indication as to just how serious and significant this issue is in our communities throughout the Pine Belt,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell has been in the illegal drug fight for many years. Now, the pandemic presents an added element to a problem that has always existed.

“The most significant issue right now in the Pine Belt is the trafficking abuse, addiction and use of methamphetamine along with various other opioid drugs. Synthetic and semi-synthetic heroin, fentanyl along with pharmaceutical drugs,” Maxwell said.

From January to June, the agency arrested more than 400 people statewide and initiated more than 700 active cases in regard to the trafficking, sale and distribution of illicit narcotics as well as the diversion of those pharmaceutical drugs.

Maxwell said COVID-19 seems to have impacted the illegitimate economy. The federal government infused more than $2 trillion dollars into the U.S. economy. That bipartisan bill that passed Congress was signed into law back in March. That’s when $1,200 checks were issued to Americans, and Maxwell said it’s likely some of those funds went straight to illegal operations.

“If I am a drug trafficker I know that $2.4 billion is coming to the state of Mississippi, I am going to do everything I can to get as much of a share of that as possible," Maxwell said. "With the stress, anxiety and depression associated with COVID-19, individuals who were already dealing with some type of substance abuse, it only exacerbated the situation for them.”

In the drug culture, additional money plus additional time equals a recipe for arrest.

“The Bible says an idle mind is the devil’s workshop. So, we do think having additional disposable cash along with time has played a role in the continued trafficking, sale, distribution and use of illicit drugs as well as the diversion of pharmaceutical drugs,” Maxwell said.

MBN will continue to fight the illegal narcotics trade as the state navigates the pandemic.

“We are doing everything we can to improve the quality of life in our business and residential communities throughout the Pine Belt and the State of Mississippi,” Maxwell said.

Maxwell said MBN is poised for expanded growth and continued success under the leadership of recently appointed Mississippi Department of Public Safety Commissioner Sean Tindell and Deputy Commissioner of Operations Keith Davis.

MBN has district offices located throughout the State of Mississippi as well as one location in the Pine Belt. Maxwell said their team works closely with local and federal agencies daily, to continue the mission of a safe and drug-free Mississippi.

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